Wednesday, April 13, 2005
"You are not God. You do not determine the outcome. The outcome is not the point."
"Then what, pray, is the point? His voice was a dry, soft rattle, like a breeze through a bough of dead leaves.
"The point is the effort. That you, believing what you believed-what you sincerely believed, including the commandment 'thou shalt not kill'-acted upon it. To believe, to act, and to have events confound you-I grant you, that is hard to bear. But to believe, and not to act, or to act in a way that every fiber of your sould held was wrong-how can you not see? That is what would have been reprehensible."
But I said none of this a year ago, when it might have mattered. It was easy then to convince one's conscience that the war would be over in ninety days, as the president said; to reason that the price paid in blood would justify the great good we were so sure we would obstain. To lift the heel of cruel oppression from the necks of the suffering! Ninety days of war seemed a fair payment. What a corrupt accounting it was. I still believe that removing the stain of slavery is worth some suffering-but whose? If our forefathers make the world awry, must our children be the ones who pay to right it?
"Who would hire me to corrupt their daughters' minds? And even if they did, I have not mastered that which I would wish to teach. I have not scaled the cliffs of knowledge, only meandered in the foothills. If I have reached any heights at all in learning, it is as a sparrow-hawk who encountered a favorable breeze that bore it briefly aloft." She flopped down onto the chaise in a flutter of skirt, as unself-conscious as a little girl. "You have unmasked me! I am one of those who knows how I wish the world were; I lack the discipline to make it so."
Finished March last night. I'm still mulling it over; a review will follow.